Director Column

Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director's monthly column featured in Cattleman Magazine. Archives

Dan Loy in The Cattleman Magazine


December 2022

Winding down 2022

While COVID did not go away in 2022, the lockdowns, social distancing and mask mandates did. Basically we learned to live with it. For us at the Iowa Beef Center it’s been great to have a full year of educational programming without restrictions. We noticed attendance at events has been lower, especially early in the year, but it was clear people were ready to interact and socialize.

Feed prices began the year high and supply chain disruptions still lingered. However, when Russia invaded Ukraine in February it created an additional shock to both problems. Corn price increased from around $6 per bushel to a peak of $8 per bushel in the spring and summer. Diesel prices began the year at a national average price of $3.60 per gallon and peaked at $5.75 in June. While these costs have moderated, the cost of borrowing money and inflation continues.

Drought continues across much of the major beef cow states. Beef cow liquidation continued on a national basis. The number of cattle had already contracted 2% and the liquidation continued. Drought had its impact on Iowa as well. Much of northwest Iowa suffered severe drought for much of the summer. Pastures were strained, crops suffered and some were salvaged as forage. The drought also stretched into central and southeast Iowa where a large area of severe drought continues. Several counties in northwest Iowa remain in extreme drought. The drought throughout the Mississippi river basin has lowered river levels and impacted barge traffic leading to unusual local corn basis.

Drought, war, inflation and supply chain disruptions have all contributed to much higher than expected costs. Cost management will continue to be important for producers to be successful well into 2023. For feedlots, consider reevaluating your yardage charges at year’s end. It is likely some adjustment will be necessary. Cow costs most certainly have increased as well. Managing feed costs through reduced feed waste and shrink is as important as ever. For purchased feeds a sharp pencil is important. Be sure to work closely with your nutritionist to find the most economical feeds and rations. The Iowa Beef Center has resources to assist you with managing both feed and non-feed costs. Also, cost management will be a major topic at several of our winter programs.

Please plan to attend one of our major regional education events in January. The Three-state Beef Conference is hosted by Iowa State University, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska. The Iowa meeting will be held Jan. 11 in Greenfield. Jan. 17 is the Feedlot Forum in Sioux Center. It is hosted by the Sioux, Lyon and Plymouth County Cattlemen along with ISU, ICA and IBIC. The Driftless Region Beef Conference will be held Jan. 26-27 in Dubuque. This program is a partnership of Iowa State University, the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin. Finally, the Cornbelt Cow Calf Conference will be held in Ottumwa on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28. The educational event is on Saturday. We hope to see you there.

Also, look us up at the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit later this month. Be sure to introduce yourself to the newest member of our team, Dr. Randie Culbertson. Randie began her position as Extension cow-calf specialist Nov. 1.

The IBC at Iowa State University serves as the university’s extension program to cattle producers. Our center comprises a team of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. We work together to develop and deliver the latest in research-based information to improve the profitability and vitality of Iowa’s beef industry. If you’d like to be notified of updates on progress of research projects or programs that might be coming to your area, please subscribe to our “Growing Beef” newsletter by following the link on our website, If you have a question, use our “Ask our Experts” link. Also, feel free to call us at 515-294-BEEF or email us at You can also follow @iowabeefcenter on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and now AgFuse.